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  Title: Bestiary

Author: Richard Barber

Date published: 1999

Status: in print

Price: GBP 19.99

What is it? An introduction to, and complete translation of, the seminal version the 13th century English Bestiary (MS Bodley 764) with all the original miniatures reproduced in colour facsimile.

What's it like? The coot is a clever and very intelligent bird, which does not eat dead bodies, does not fly about aimlessly, but lives in one place, remaining there all its life and finding its food and rest there. If all believers behaved themselves and lived in this way, and did not wander off on strange paths as the heretics do, and did not seek secular desires and pleasure, but stayed in one place and rested in the Catholic Church, where the Lord makes them dwell together in harmony, they would have their daily sustenance, the bread of immortality, and the precious blood of Christ would be their drink.

What's good about it? Anyone visiting medieval churches soon realises that animals and their symbols were significant to the medieval mind, and this is reflected in church imagery. The Bestiary reveals what these animals, real and mythical, meant to medieval people, and how they were used to signify aspects of the Faith. Barber's translation is very lively and amusing.

What's bad about it? A touch pricey.

Overall rating: 4/5

Buy this book: Amazon.co.uk (UK and Europe), Amazon.com (rest of the world)